On the surface it is a gamer’s dream, a live-streamed event focused solely on games, yet it seems to leave many in a huff.
The biggest gaming event of the year, Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), has come and gone. Starting in 1995, E3 was the product of a mass exodus from main technology expos such as the Consumer Electronic Show by gaming companies. The event is a platform for gaming giants like Sony and Microsoft to announce and show off their newest projects. It is also the main platform for the reveal of each new generation, the first E3 in 1995 running alongside the release of the original PlayStation, one of the biggest contributors to early 3D gaming. The immensity of the gaming industry, it is growth over the years, and the dedication of its fan-base means E3 is a very exciting time of year. However the past few years have been disappointing to gamers, and now many have chosen to be much more cautious of this year’s presentation.
Many of E3’s biggest critics are Youtubers and bloggers, which are the main sources of gaming news in the current day. George Weidman, with his channel Super Bunnyhop, is one of these critics. Mr Weidman has been a content creator for almost three years and started his channel with a series of videos criticising some of the most beloved franchises of all time; he has made no discernible change in his newest E3 video Lies and Hype: The E3 2015 Story. Mr Weidman comments on how this year’s E3 was full of “awkward overblown fluff” and how the overwhelming disappointments of last year “stunting the growth of an entire console generation two years in” had left him viewing the event with skepticism.
One of Mr Weidman’s main complaints is the use of controlled environments to create a viewing experience that cannot be replicated in game, as well as underhanded marketing to sell something under the guise of another product.
One of the first problems that Mr Weidman mentions, is the Fallout 4 Pip Boy pre-order bonus, a retro futuristic smart watch. He says “the amount of people they fooled into thinking they had actually made 1950s retrograde tech… was truly shameful”. Todd Howard , Bethesda Game Studios Director conceded the device was “a stupid gimmick”.
Right after, Weidman censures gaming companies for “gearing to incite fanboy over reaction”, pointing out Sony’s four rebooted cult classics in three sequels for a long considered abandoned series, and a Final Fantasy VII remake, while ignoring the reasons behind these choices. Shenmue 3 was widely criticised for its use of a 3 million dollar Kickstarter (a crowdfunding initiative) despite being the product of a multi-million dollar company. While doing this to fund a game for a company as affluent as Sony may not be encouraged, it was stated in their post show presentations that the Kickstarter was used to show audience interest and gain approval from investors.
George Ouzounian, better known under his pen name Maddox, is another Youtuber known for his ultra satirical videos on everything from cinema etiquette to the portrayal of women in video games. He also partook in the mass video event to spit out an opinion on E3, using a ‘pros and cons’ list he has renamed to “cool as shit” and “sucks shit”. His M-rated rantings included his personal feelings towards the announcement of a Mad Max game that uses the world of the recently released box office hit. His thoughts on it were less than favourable, amounting to a general distaste in a lack of explosions. His pros are definitely worth investigating as his reviews are known for only praising the top per cent of games and films that interest him. This included the reveal of the aforementioned HD Final Fantasy VII, although the fact that it is a remake was scrutinized, along with all the other remakes, sequels, and licensed properties dubbing them “non-announcements”. Despite this, the Street Fighter V and Dark Souls 3 exhibits were all dubbed “cool as shit”, even though they are both sequels. The console port of the independently developed game Gang Beasts was noted as exciting, he even gave the event 100/5 stars in his written review.
Lastly is the E3 review by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, a games reviewer for the online games magazine The Escapist. Like Maddox, Mr Croshaw is highly sarcastic and crass with his humour, and uses it liberally in his review E3 2015- The Hype Train is Back. Although he was willing to admit that much of his opinion had been formulated before the press conferences had even begun, the review is highly critical of the event; it contains snap judgements on games not yet released based on their predecessors, like branding Microsoft’s newest titles in the Halo, Tomb Raider and Gears of War series as “back to formula” and making statements on the gameplay of these unreleased games. Other than his Microsoft commentary, Mr Croshaw had little more to add to E3’s stockpile of reviews, parroting the criticism of The Last Guardian and the use of a Kickstarter to gauge interest in Shenmue 3.
These reviews all criticised the hordes of sequels and remakes; although Grand Theft Auto V, the latest instalment of its series, had no real new or interesting gameplay mechanics other than its treatment of multiplayer and some small gimmicks, still managed to break six world records upon its release. The same can be said for each instalment of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series (each of which outsold the previous) that maintains the same point and shoot gameplay. To criticise a business for making money for making financially safe decisions is asinine, especially when the event makes no effort to conceal the fact it is an advertisement. The real piece of advice to take from these reviews should go without saying, be a savvy consumer; do not buy a product based on it is use in the most optimal conditions, but instead look for professional and consumer reviews closer to release to avoid disappointment. – Christopher Pirina
Top photo from E3’s 2015 official publicity site banner.